Slow-Moving U of North Carolina Academic-Sports Scandal Unresolved

Ann McClure's picture
Monday, September 10, 2012

A two-year scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that's led to sidelined football players, NCAA penalties and the departure of a big-name coach has slowly built into questions of how widely academic fraud has spread at the elite public university.

After a series of campus reports into what went wrong, the oversight board for the 17-campus state university system is examining whether athletes were guided into no-show classes and lightly supervised independent studies. State criminal investigators are looking into signs of possible forgery, conspiracy, fraud, and whether a professor was paid for summer courses he didn't fully teach. A former governor is looking for signs corners were cut beyond the one academic department identified so far.

Harvard University is coping with its own cheating scandal, and universities nationwide for decades boosted sports with academic compromises. But UNC-Chapel Hill will continue to thrive despite the current black eye, said Jay Smith, a history professor and member of an informal group of faculty members critical of the role of athletics on campus.

"Our academic programs are as strong today as they were in 2010, but our reputation for truth-telling has taken a real hit. I think the administration needs to dedicate itself to restoring that reputation," Smith said.

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